Let’s face it a serious Second Life media backlash is going to happen in ’07. The only questions are – what form will it take and when will it hit.
Place your bets,,,
While at this year’s State of Play: NYC Teh TN Symposium I decided to write a New Year’s Eve piece about a potential media backlash against Second Life. The basis of this is that the media seems to work in a build ‘em knock ‘em down kind of way. Almost irrespective of the actual merits or otherwise of some cultural phenomenon the popular media seem to over hype it, often making claims on its behalf that it would never make or taking claims with the innocence of a new puppy that’s just been given too many artificial colourings. Only to be followed by stories telling us that the bright new thing is not as bright as we all thought, in fact it’s a bit rubbish, but oh, there is another new bright thing to get fixated on (very possibly the young bright thing of ’07 is Raph's new venture (accumulator bets may include this as a specific option (with a bonus for: see Bartle was right all the time it's about building your own world))).
Second Life, it seems to me, has just had too many headlines for it’s own good (and I don’t mean that sarcastically). The other day I went to bed late and put on the BBC World Service the first thing I heard was a program featuring people talking about Second Life, I woke a few hours later to hear The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 talking about, yes, Second Life. OK I thought, now it’s getting silly.
Then the Shirky threads started.
Today I got a link to a story linking Virtual Worlds and the possibility of money laundering (yes, I know, it’s not a new angle).
So, I’m wondering when the backlash will be and what form it will take. And by backlash I don’t mean a few people saying SL is a bit rubbish, a lot of people say that already. I mean something like: more than one NYT piece that directly references SL stories saying that either claims are just not true; or that it’s old news and there is a much better mouse-trap; or that there is something horribly negative about it that everyone’s been missing.
My options for the form of the backlash are as follows:
- It’s all just sex. sex sex sex I tell you
- It's not just sex, it's prostitution
- It can be used for hiding / laundering money
- Terrorist can use it to communicate / plot attacks using it’s wonderful simulation abilities (though we've talked on TN about how VW's might help the fight against Terrorism)
- Age play or Furries or both: when awww kittens turns to ewwww, give us the wholesome wiikitty
- OMG children could use it and (see 1) sex, omg omg omg abuse, grooming - shut it all down now
- Hold on a moment, we just noticed – it’s not real!
- The numbers are ‘lies’
- Better mouse trap
- SL is all just brands these days – what’s the point, you have to be a company to have a real presence and all the users are just mindless fodder that escape the real word into a place where they just get bombarded with the same old messages, look Fox News just opened up sim. Virtual O'Reilly bringing his 'culture war to the virtual' that's the last straw, like we needed another one
- And the outside bet - no really, it is just as wonderful as everyone says
Anyone want to place a bet on one (1L$ maximum bet) or add some more?
As to timing, hmm, difficult one, I’d say about March ’07.
Lastly, for the avoidance of doubt, this is a commentary on the media, not on Second Life. SL is great, I have my issues with it and Linden - as expressed here, but on the whole it’s a great thing – and you should also try There too! I really don’t think that Linden have caused all this press hysteria, on the whole they have played a good sensible PR game if you ask me, they’ve just got swept up in something, and I hope, really I do, that there is no backlash, that I’m completely wrong and SL goes on to compete strongly with a few other products in the same space. Fingers crossed.